tv Tavis Smiley PBS August 31, 2010 12:00am-12:30am EDT
tomorrow marks the official land of combat operations in iraq as president obama will deliver it a prime time address from the oval office. there are still questions about this war and the future of u.s. involvement. a preview of tomorrow night's address and more with general wesley clark. also tonight, director rob reiner stops by. the latest project is a coming of age, a. the movie is playing in theaters. we are glad you could join us, wesley clark and rob reiner coming up. >> his name is james and he needs help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a
difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance helps support tavis smiley. remove obstacles to economic empowerment. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: a couple of quick programming notes. tomorrow a conversation with norah jones and a special performance. she will be in milwaukee celebrating the 20th anniversary of farm aid. reaction to president obama's
speech on iraq. on thursday, one politician will join us and so will dr. john. on friday, a look at this year's emmy winners. tonight we will look at the much anticipated address tomorrow night by president obama as he marks the end of combat operations in iraq. wesley clark was a candidate for the white house in 2004. he is a senior fellow and john's us from chicago. good to have you back on the program. the insurgents increase their activity recently. what are they trying to say? >> they are trying to say to their network they are still
there and have not been defeated, but they have been substantially defeated. this is why we built the iraqi security forces. >> what does this do to the argument many have made that when we give them a date certain this was expected to happen? >> i think a date certain cuts both ways. you have to tell the host government at some point we are leaving and they need that as an incentive. sometimes you have to say it for the american people because our patience is limited. they have not been able to get them thus far. the u.s. will have a vital interest in iraq for a long time. tavis: we have 50,000 soldiers
still left there and yet we have seen lives lost since we announced we were leaving. american soldiers have died. can the american people stomach still losing lives? >> it is better if we don't lose lives, but this is a case we will have to press through with the policy direction. we should try to make that work and have the iraq use form a government, to defeat the insurgency that are there. we still have intelligence on the ground. we can still strike at individual cells. it is just not being done by combat forces. tavis: there have been a number of campaign promises president
obama has made. this is one promise he has kept. was there one he should have kept? >> it is. this is a hard step to take for the president. he understands there are risks with leaving. he knows if you were to ask the military honestly, they would say we have to stay here forever even though the military cannot afford the strain of afghanistan and iraq. the military says let's minimize risks, but that is not the best course of action for the u.s. as a whole. the president made a good decision and has shown a lot of courage and everyone has to pull together to make it work.
it is about our diplomats on the ground. tavis: iraqi security forces ready to handle this responsibility? >> i am only reading it so i have not inspected their forces, but from what i have read they are somewhat ready. they cannot do the tough intelligence collection. they cannot bring precision strike to bear, but they have command of control. they can use their weapons and with the backing of the u.s. and iraq keep people, they will be affected if. tavis: those american troops there are engaged in advise and assist. what does this mean? >> they are assisting in the
execution of the operations. reminding them how to coordinate air and artillery, calling in for artillery support in a specific case where the iraqis cannot do it. it might be in terms of doing a training to say let's go over our weapons skills. now to change frequencies on the radio, how to refuel at the appropriate time. there are a lot of nuts and bolts training. tavis: there are a lot of americans concerned that this drawdown means many soldiers will come home for a little while and be shipped off to afghanistan. how realistic is that?
>> that is very likely some soldiers will go on a repetitive tor. -- repetitive tour. that is a function not only of our military but also the fact we are caught between the insecurities of pakistan and insecurities of india, which are playing them sells out on the ground in afghanistan. tavis: other than toppling saddam hussein's, the bush white house changed why we were going into iraq. other than toppling saddam hussein which has been done, is there anything we can label as a victory? >> it is too soon to know.
victory is too strong a word, but if further -- if you can suffer through to say you created a government that is stable, that serves to anchor stability, then we had salvaged a situation. maybe you call it a victory through selvage, but i would not be waving a flag except on behalf of the soldiers who served there. as far as the policy itself, we unleashed an incredible instability, we served as a recruiting magnet for al qaeda, we cost ourselves $800 billion of direct expenses, 30,000
wounded2 in the wounded trillion in obligations long term. we are trying to salvage something out of this. the president's policy is the right step. it remains to be seen how successful we are. tavis: it is a thorough list, that does not sound like it was worth it. >> you have to address if from the perspectives of the various participants. i was against the policy. i thought it was not necessary to fight that war. the men and women in uniform, they fought their hearts out.
they did what they believed in. they fought with honor. with very few exceptions they were great soldiers over there. you can be proud of them as a nation. our forces have hung together far longer than anyone would .ave expected, so my hat's off they have done a great job. when you asked was it worth it you have to put it in perspective. i am really proud of them. tavis: to president obama's speech on the pullout of iraq,
how does the president balance what he wants to achieve politically which is to take some credit, but not go so far as to get caught up in the flag waving? >> it is the right question. he is a tremendous communicator for the american people. he probably will be recognized as a great teacher. , but this is one of those moments he has to define this for the american people. it is a decision to intervene that was not necessary. he said he opposed it at the time. he respects the men and women who serve.
he appreciates the support of the american people. we will move forward. there are enormous tasks remaining, some remaining in iraq and we have the economy and job creation front. tavis: wesley clark, good to have you on the program. up next come rob reiner. stay with us. please welcome rob reiner. he is a very successful actor, writer and producer as well as a longtime political activist. here is a scene from "flipped." >> it was those eyes. something in those dazzling eyes. his family had just moved into
the neighborhood. i had been in the van when his dad got him to help his mom. and i chased after him to see if he could play before he got trapped inside. the next and i know he was holding my hand. my heart stopped. could this be my first kiss? but then his mother came out. she turned completely read. good to have you on the program. i know you are such a political guy. use of the conversation with wesley clark. what did you make of his reticence to just say this was an abject failure? >> he is a military man.
people were given orders to go over there and fight. he will not be smirch our military, but from a policy standpoint it was a disaster. when you think about what is going on with this terrible recession, i believed it might have been blunt it had we not billions of dollars into that. it might have been used to invest in new technologists and green jobs. it was an absolute disaster from every standpoint. tavis: how do progressives like you support president obama juxtapose his keeping his campaign promise to pull out of iraq but increasing in afghanistan? >> afghanistan is a tricky place
because they were the breeding ground for the group that bombed us on 9/11 so we had to respond. but that is a sinkhole there. we have seen great societies go down. tavis: the graveyard of empires. >> i feel like we have to see if -- is such an unstable part of the world with pakistan with nuclear weapons. we have to make sure they don't fall into the hands of those who want to do us harm. in terms of ever winning there, i don't know that is a possibility. tavis: back to the movie --
>> you have those smooth transitions. tavis: thanks for talking politics. the whole world is watching california. we have an interesting race and the second coming of it jerry brown. your sense of where california is going? the old saying is california casts a long shadow or a long sunbeam. >> unfortunately, whenever you have unemployment at this level people tend to want to throw the people who are in power out of power. they think somehow that is magically going to change things. it never does, but you think it will. in terms of the governor, unfortunately we live in a state that is not able to be governed.
we have a two-thirds majority to pass a budget. whoever gets elected will have a hard time digging us out. california is in a big mess. tavis: is it likely whitman will be the governor? >> she might be. she and jerry brown will both have trouble. i think jerry brown has a better chance of getting us out. he understands the governor structure. tavis: if these two republican women -- if they could win in california what would that say about what is happening? >> all it says is that people are just unhappy. i believe barbara boxer will
pull it out. she has experience and i am supporting her, but she always is hanging by a thread. i think she will pull it out again. let's flip it to "flip ed." tavis: the book is set in present-day andy you flip it back to the 1950's. >> this is like a companion to "stand by me" and focuses on the same time of life. tavis: the cast -- these two kids -- >> most of the picture takes place in the early 1960's when they are a six years older.
there is a picture of the two of them as they get older. it literally flips back and forth between the points of view. what you showed earlier is her point of view at one point he is smiling and from his point of view he is terrified. as we know, boys and girls see things very different. tavis: how much rob reiner story did you sneak into this? >> maalot. i fell in love -- the lots -- a lot. it brought back for me all those feelings. tavis: did you get a kiss? >> it is interesting because her name was kathy and i went steady
with her. she looked a lot like hayley mills with a blond curly hair. i went to kiss her and she hit me with a hair brush. that is when i knew it was true love. [laughter] i was willing to endure pain to get a kiss. tavis: how do you know given the state of the business that a film like this this coming of age works in today's environment. >> you don't know. the old line which is nobody knows everything -- you don't know. audiences go crazy. the tough part is to get them into the theater. it is a tough market to say we are making a story about two 13-
year olds. it is very insightful but if it is tough for them. once they are in the theater they have a great time. i should have blown somebody up. tavis: either that or put a in3- d. -- put it in 3-d. >> i make movies about human beings that live on earth and people don't seem to be interested in that. tavis: what attracts you to those times -- those kinds of stories? >> i like to make stories about people, the human experience. when we played for audiences they all feel those things. nobody forgets their first love.
i bet you remember. tavis: you got the hair brush and i got the street fist. i am about the same age and i try to get the test. in vienna, there is no everywhere. she hit me with a roundhouse down in the snow. >> we have a screening in indianapolis. i had a great time there. tavis: how much of the success has to do with the fact that it does play well in the heartland. >> "bucket list"was a big success in the heartland. as you get older you start feeling the preciousness of life. you start cherishing it more.
i want to make stories that are uplifting, so "bucket list" is uplifting because they are embracing life. i'd just like to celebrate that life experience. tavis: as we get older we focus more on our bucket list. how are you doing on it? >> when i made the movie they went to africa and the sarin getting which i always wanted to do. i got to go this summer. uganda and hiked into the mountains to see the guerrillas. tavis: anthony edwards has done great work in africa.
>> he is the sweetest guy. he plays a guy who is angry which is unlike anthony. he was great to work with. tavis: good to have you on the program. that is our show for tonight. until next time, keep the faith. >> for more intermission on today's show, this is pbs.org. tavis: join me next time for a conversation with norah jones and a performance from her most recent cd. see you then. >> all i know is his name is james and he needs help with reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley.